Each tier has a unique set of benefits, and the more tiers you use, the more insights you get.
You are a professional services leader who knows a feedback program is important for your firm, but you’re not sure what the best strategy is to create the best outcomes. Or maybe, you’re a firm that has a feedback strategy, but the program in place just isn’t delivering the best results. It seems to be more of a “check the box” initiative than an operational discipline. Good news, you’re not alone!
At Client Savvy, we get questions like these all the time:
- How often should I ask for feedback
- How many questions should I ask?
- Should I give free rein to send feedback requests or have more of a structure in place?
- How much is too much?
- How do I build adoption with our team and/or buy-in from leadership?
- I have so many different types of engagements that are different lengths of time, how do I manage that?
These are just a few of the most frequently asked questions we receive. What you’ll find in this blog about customer surveys is from the many years of R&D and the hundreds of Voice of Client programs we have developed and implemented for professional services firms.
The Four Tiered Approach to Client Feedback
Based on more than 17 years of working with nearly 500 firms, we’ve found approaching feedback in diverse organizations is a four-tiered approach:
The most successful firms we work with, ALLOW anyone to solicit feedback, anytime, in a way that makes sense to their unique situation. Doing so in a way that is consistent with broader feedback mechanisms. Provides a consistent experience and more insights across the organization. The “allowed” feedback approach empowers progressive client-oriented staff and teams to push the boundaries of client intimacy and create new best practices for the organization – organically.
Enabling and empowering individuals in the firm to solicit feedback is mutually beneficial. It reinforces the advantages of having open-ended, non-judgmental conversations about how projects are progressing, and expectations being met. More feedback leads to more communication and collaboration. Proactively asking for feedback encourages clients who may be reticent to share any concerns they have been hesitant to share.
Firms should also ENCOURAGE specific feedback cadences and interactions, typically around Critical Moments of Truth (CMoTs). All firms have a diversity of projects, clients, and portfolios. Rarely can a “one size fits all” approach be designed for the breadth of projects/clients encountered. As such, we suggest developing a menu of suggested places for targeted listening and messaging. Do this carefully across the organization to encourage as much as practical for the given situations.
By having regular intervals of feedback over the course of a year or the implementation of a project, participants learn they are expected and encouraged to provide feedback on how things are going and to speak up and share what’s on their mind.
Some CMoTs are so pivotal, these may fall into a PRESCRIBED category. The difference here is that firms apply tracking and accountability to these listening events. Often, to avoid the administrative burden of managing accountability/participation, firms can automate feedback. They do this either with internal systems or external support.
A firm may make a project closeout feedback request standard operating procedure for all projects over a certain dollar value. Systems exist to track contracts, projects, and percent billed. This is one CMoT that is easy to ensure nearly universal inclusion in a feedback program.
Checking in following the initial kickoff, at the midpoint review, or at project close-out are all examples of prescribed feedback. For the project to proceed smoothly, it’s important to elicit feedback from every stakeholder at critical inflection points. Identify inflection points by talking with clients and identifying where projects may have veered off course in the past.
Finally, firms need to designate a REQUIRED cadence for feedback for ALL clients. Most firms are closing this gap with an annual “baseline” client perception study. In this effort, every key client contact is contacted and polled for their perceptions. Detached from a specific project, this request is usually focused on the higher-level relationship between the two organizations.
Required feedback helps identify any CX gaps that may have arisen since the last required feedback took place. Results from these surveys help understand how the perception of the firm is trending. This enables identification and correction if perceptions and expectations are not being met.
By designing and implementing a flexible and comprehensive client listening approach, firms leverage existing systems, data sources, cultures, and thought leaders. They will maximize insights gained from clients, and convert those insights into higher business value for their firms.